Band of Builders step in to help Norwich father suffering from rare degenerative neurological condition

Band of Builders step in to help Norwich father suffering from rare degenerative neurological condition

A Norwich father-of-four suffering from a rare neurological disorder will finally regain some of his freedom thanks to the efforts of a group of kind-hearted tradesmen and women.

Chris Joy, 42?, suffers from Cerebellar Ataxia – a rare degenerative neurological condition that only affects 10,000 people in the UK.

The condition means that Chris, who works as a plasterer, suffers from symptoms including loss of coordination, double vision, balance issues, speech issues and tinnitus and has to spend 50% of the time in a wheelchair. 

Chris first noticed symptoms in July 2016 when he started feeling light-headed at work. He deteriorated rapidly over the following few weeks but it was another two years before he was finally given a blanket diagnosis of Cerebellar Ataxia in 2018.

Ataxia is an umbrella term for a group of neurological disorders that affect balance, coordination and speech. There are many different types that affect people in different ways and as of yet Chris has no specific diagnosis. While some forms of ataxia are treatable, for most cases of the progressive condition there is still no cure. 

One of the main effects of the condition on Chris’s life is that he is now unable to get in and out of his home in Cringleford, Norwich, without help, as the driveway and pathway are too uneven for his wheelchair.

But the dad of four will now get some of his freedom back thanks to the help of volunteer tradesmen and women from across the country. A team from national charity Band of Builders will be descending on the family’s home on March 28th to overhaul the driveway, giving Chris easier access in and out of the home. 

Trustee Gavin Crane said: “A driveway might not sound like much, or particularly glamorous, but making it accessible for Chris means he’ll be able to regain some of his lost independent and have the freedom to come and go without help. For someone who has been so active for their whole life to find themselves unable to do things that before were so easy can have a huge effect, and we’re hoping that by transforming Chris’s driveway will have a genuinely positive effect on his and his family’s lives.”

A team of volunteers from Band of Builders, which helps tradespeople in their hour of need, will spend a week overhauling the driveway, giving up their time for free and using materials that have been kindly donated by various companies in the construction sector. They will reveal the project to Chris and his family on Sunday, April 5th.

Chris said: “When I first started feeling light-hearted back in 2016 I had no idea that in 2020 I’d be where I am now. It’s been a hard journey for me and my family and has taken a lot of adjustment for all of us. A driveway might not sound that exciting to some people but to us this really will make a difference.

“We’re just all grateful to Band of Builders for taking the time to come and help us, because without them there would be no way we would do this.”




1. Media are invited to attend the project at Chris’s home in Norwich. The project will take place from Saturday, March 28th and finish on April 5th. For more details or to arrange interviews, either on site or over the phone, please contact Ellen Manning from Band of Builders on 07515 717173

2. Attached is an image for media use of Chris and ….



Band of Builders was formed in 2016 after landscaper Addam Smith asked for help to renovate the garden of his friend and employee Keith Ellick, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Keith lost his battle with cancer in 2017 but Band of Builders continued with the aim of helping other members of the UK construction industry battling illness or injury. Band of Builders was declared a registered charity (Charity Number 1182283) on March 1, 2019. 

Previous projects have included:

  • Installing a specialised bathroom for Pippa Atkinson, an electrician’s daughter suffering from a rare skin condition
  • Landscaping a garden for builder Jamie Thompson, who is suffering from Motor Neurone Disease, so he can safely watch his children play, as well as installing a new kitchen. 
  • Finishing renovations at the home of Elaine Dunphy, whose husband Steve died of cancer before he could finish the work he had started. 
  • Creating a bedroom for plasterer’s daughter Sadie Jenkins, who had spent the first half of her life in hospital and needed machines to breathe, as well as installing a downstairs bathroom for her carers. 
  • Installing a summer-house and landscaping the garden for carpenter Dan McIntosh, who was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, so he could spend precious time with his family.

For more information on how to become a member or how to apply for help from Band of Builders, visit